7 Horrific Psychological Treatments Used To “Cure” Mental Illness

Go check out the original video on youtube here!

This video might be hard to watch for some people but I wanted to create it to spread awareness to show how far we have come with mental health treatment. Here are 7 treatments that were actually practiced to “cure” the mentally ill.


As far back as 7000 years ago this treatment was being used. Society believed that mental illness was caused by demonic possession. The only way to get that demon out was to cut a hole in the skull to help it escape. This treatment was also used for other illnesses like headaches.

Bleeding, Vomiting, or Purging 

A greek physician named Claudius Galen believed that mental illness was caused by an imbalance of substances in the body. These substances included blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. This was the first time there was a biomedical connection behind mental illness. Bleeding, purging, or vomiting was thought to cure this imbalance in the body.

Exorcism and Prayer

Along the same lines that people believed that mental illness was caused by demonic possession, people practiced exorcisms and prayers to heal the mentally ill. Although prayer can be a powerful tool for a lot of people, in this time period it was the only thing that was used to cure mental illness.

Insulin Coma Therapy

This type of therapy was created in 1927 when a doctor accidentally gave a patient more insulin then they needed. This resulted in in the patient ¬†being put into a coma. This patient was a morphine addict but when he woke up from his coma he no longer had urges to use. This lead doctors to believe that this was a great treatment for people with addictions and schizophrenia. It was reported that there was a 90% success rate. The 10% that weren’t successful passed away.

Frontal Lobe Lobotomies

Everyone’s favorite mental health treatment to talk about. You see lobotomies portrayed in a lot of the pop culture that we see today. This treatment was created by a Portuguese doctor who believed that mental illness was in the frontal lobe. To fix mental health problems he had to go in and separate the two lobes of the brain. He did this by using an instrument that looked like an icepick, that is why this treatment was sometimes called an “ice pick” lobotomy. He would take this instrument, go in through the eye of the patient, and cut the two hemispheres.This procedure had devastating consequences. Patients were left not having the ability to speak or do anything by themselves.

Electroshock Therapy

Also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. Today, patients are put under anesthesia and given muscle relaxants to help keep them comfortable during the procedure. This was not the case in the past. ECT was when small electrical currents is passed through the brain to create a tiny seizure. ECT was used when other treatments did not seem to be successful.

Ice, Restraints, & Isolation

Doctors in the 18th century could not separate mental illness from physical illness. Because of this, physical treatments were used to cure mental illnesses. These treatments included ice baths, restraints, and isolation. Asylums were also very common in this time period because society did not want the mentally ill interacting with the general public.

I hope this shows how far we have come as a society in the treatment of the mentally ill. Learning about these treatments and the many others like it inspired me to become an advocate. What are your thoughts on these treatments? Did any of them surprise you?


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